Zogby: Malachy in 3rd place

Democrats are dominating the races for New York’s top leadership posts heading into next month’s elections, spurred by widespread discontent about the direction the state is headed, a new Zogby International poll shows.

Nearly two out of three respondents (63%) said they believe the state is on the wrong track, while only 23% of those polled said the state is going in the right direction.

The Zogby Interactive poll of likely New York voters, conducted Oct. 5-9, included 761 respondents and carries a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points. The poll is part of a joint project between Zogby International and the League of Women Voters of New York State.

As three-term incumbent Gov. George Pataki steps down, the office seems poised to return to Democratic hands, as Attorney General Eliot Spitzer leads by a wide margin, with 63% saying they would vote for him, while 25% say they support Republican John Faso.

Spitzer has locked up his base, winning the support of 93% of Democrats, compared to just 65% of Republicans who said they would support Faso. More than one in four Republicans (27%) said they would vote for Spitzer. Among independent voters, 53% support Spitzer, while 20% would vote for Faso, 14% for Green Party Candidate Malachy McCourt and 8% supporting Libertarian John Clifton. Spitzer boasted a 73% favorable rating among those polled, compared to just one in three who gave a favorable rating to Faso.

 

2006 New York State Governor’s race

 

Spitzer

Faso

McCourt

Clifton

Total

63%

25%

5%

2%

Republican

27%

65%

0%

1%

Democrat

93%

2%

4%

>1%

Independent

53%

20%

14%

8%

Men

61%

26%

5%

5%

Women

66%

24%

6%

>1%

Married

54%

36%

2%

2%

Single

71%

11%

11%

3%

In the race for U.S. Senate from New York, a majority of those polled (53%) said they would vote for Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton over her Republican opponent John Spencer (28%). Clinton has a strong edge over Spencer among partisans – 83% of Democrats would vote for Clinton and 5% for Spencer while 67% of Republicans would vote for Spencer and 18% for Clinton. Among independent voters, 38% would vote for Clinton, 24% for Spencer, 21% for Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and 5% for Libertarian candidate Jeff Russell. Slightly more than half of those polled (52%) gave Clinton a favorable rating. One in four gave Spencer a favorable rating.

The majority of voters polled appear ready for another Democrat to take over as Attorney General, with 47% supporting Andrew Cuomo, compared to 31% who said they would vote for Republican Jeanine Pirro and 10% said they were not sure. Democrats overwhelmingly support Cuomo (77%) compared to just 10% who would vote for Pirro, while 67% of Republicans would vote for Pirro and 16% would throw their support to Cuomo. Among independent voters, 31% would vote for Cuomo, 25% for Pirro, 17% for Green Party candidate Rachel Treichler and 11% for Libertarian Chris Garvey. Only one third gave a favorable opinion of Pirro, compared to 44% for Cuomo.

Despite New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi’s recent admission that he allowed a state employee to chauffer his wife, 42% of those polled favor the Democrat, compared to 23% who would vote for Republican J. Christopher Callaghan. But many voters have yet to make up their minds in this race – 17% unsure of whom they will vote for.

Younger voters receptive to debate messages

When it comes to reaching voters through debates, voters younger than 25 may be the most receptive. While than half of those polled (53%) said a candidate’s performance in debates is important in helping them decide for whom to vote, two thirds of younger voters said debate performance was important to helping them make up their minds, compared to 55% of those 25-34, 52% of those 35-54, 48% of those 55-69 and 56% of those older than 70. Voters younger than 25 were also most likely to believe debates are valuable, with 45% holding that view.

Nearly one in three respondents said they had seen debates between candidates running for statewide office this year. Nearly 40% of Democrats said they had seen state candidate debates, compared to around a quarter of Republicans (26%), the poll showed. More men (35%) than women (26%) reported watching debates. When broken down by age, younger voters showed the most interest in debates, with 39% of voters age 18-24 watching state debates.

While the majority of respondents (63%) said they had never changed their mind about voting for a candidate in a race because of that candidate’s performance in a debate, 29% indicated that how well a candidate came off during a debate had been enough to change their vote in the past. Slightly more women (31%) report changing their minds due to a debate, as opposed to 28% of men.

Nearly half of those polled (48%) said they believed debates are carefully staged political events that offer little new information about the candidates, compared with 37% who said debates are valuable because they offer voters a chance to compare candidates side by side. More than half (54%) of Republicans were skeptical of the value of debates compared with 41% of Democrats and 53% of independents. Forty-one percent of Democrats said they see value in debates, compared with 32% of Republicans and 32% of independents.

LWVNYS announces 2006 statewide debates

The League of Women Voters of New York State (LWVNYS) and Zogby International will co-sponsor a Gubernatorial Debate at WNED Studios in Buffalo at 8 p.m. Thursday, October 12. The debate will be offered live on WNED-TV and WNED-AM. All nine New York State public television stations have agreed to carry the debate. The debate will also be offered to all public radio stations in New York.

Debates for the Attorney General race are planned October 15 at WABC Studios in New York City, October 18 at WCNY Studios in Syracuse, Oct. 24 at SUNY Oneonta and October 30 at WXXI Studios in Rochester.

A debate for the U.S. Senate race is planned October 22 at WABC Studios in New York City.

For more information on the debates, visit The League of Women Voters of New York State Web site at www.lwvny.org.

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